Thursday, September 27, 2012

An olive branch to the new old rulers

There is a discussion going on among Ethiopian opposition circles on the possibilities of a change occurring in Ethiopia as a result of a new leadership taking over the reigns of the ruling party. It is natural to expect a change when there is a change in leadership. Unfortunately, the new leaders of the Ethiopian government have already stated that they are going to stay on the same course that was chartered for them by their former leader.

What is the opposition to do? In my opinion, the opposition groups would be better off if they keep their focus on only what THEY can do to precipitate a change, instead of expecting a change to originate from the ruling group. They can do many things, but here is one suggestion for them: find an area where they have a common objective with the ruling party and offer their cooperation to achieve that objective -- in other words, offer the new old rulers an olive branch.

The building of a dam on Abay (Blue Nile) River, which is dubbed the Renaissance Dam, could be one such an objective where there is a common goal among all Ethiopian political groups, since there is a near unanimous consensus that building a dam on Abay is not only in Ethiopia's national interest but it is also necessary for her survival.

There were and still are some legitimate questions on whether or not sufficient financial planning had taken place prior to the commencement of the building of the dam in April of 2011. There were also questions on the timing of the dam building announcement. Some had suggested that the timing was designed to divert the attention of Ethiopians from the so-called Arab Spring that was happening in the region. This is now a mute question since construction of the dam is already underway. But Ethiopia's ability to raise the necessary financial resources to carry out this project to completion without external loans is still in serious doubt. This is where the opposition comes in.

It is important that the Abay dam project continue at full speed and is completed as scheduled in 2017 regardless of whether or not Ethiopia is able to get external loans for the project. The reason Ethiopia has been unable to secure external loans for this project is because of opposition from Egypt. Egypt has stymied all good faith efforts by Ethiopia and other Nile riparian countries in their attempt to create a mutually beneficial framework of understanding on the use of the Nile waters. Egypt has also been blocking loans to Ethiopia from multilateral institutions to build a dam on the Nile for a long time and she is continuing the same belligerent practice today.

The Woyane regime had made a bold effort to raise the required resources for the Abay dam project through the issuance of treasury bonds from domestic resources and the Ethiopian Diaspora. The estimated cost for building the dam at the time of the announcement was 4.8 billion dollar. The final cost of the dam will most likely exceed the initial figure, and the government is far from raising the funds it needs.

The only way the dam project can come to fruition as scheduled is if the government can bring all Ethiopians together for this common objective irrespective of their political affiliations. This can be done only if the government can persuade the Diaspora to wholeheartedly support the project. And the only way to have the full support of the Diaspora is through the endorsement of the dam project by opposition groups.

This should be a win-win proposition for both sides. At the end of the day, everyone will get a credit for playing a role in the project. The Woyane regime will get the credit for starting it, and the opposition groups will get the credit for getting the critical funds that will enable Ethiopia to circumvent Egypt's bellicose actions. If this proposal comes to pass, Ethiopians may finally usher in an era of real renaissance.

On the face of it, such a proposition for finding a common ground would seem a no-brainer idea. But the Ethiopian culture of suspicion may get in the way of capitalizing on opportunities for a positive change as has been the case way too many times in their history.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Hailemariam Desalegn

The selection of Hailemariam Desalegn as the Prime Minister of Ethiopia is now official. Here is his 18 minute acceptance speech that is heavy on adulation of the late dear-great-visionary leader. It also strikes me that the speech is devoid of his personal input. Could this be the clearest signal yet that Hailemariam will be a puppet leader? I hope not.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Long live entrepreneurial wealth creation!

Yesterday was the first anniversary of a fad movement that is known as "occupy this or that place." One would hope that these people have learned a few good lessons about why the profit/loss instruments of a free enterprise society is the most efficient and fairest way by which wealth is created and allocated. In case they have not, here is a clip from a year ago that explains to them how the real world works.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Congratulations Ethiopians!

This is my message to Ethiopians on their New Year and the selection of their new leader.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Should America Promote Democracy Abroad?

This is about an hour of good discussion with Elliot Abrams and Nicholas Burns on how best to use American foreign policy as a tool for promoting democracy. They talk at length about the illusive balancing act between US interests (economic, geopolitical, etc) and the ideals of America (democracy, freedom, etc) in the process of conducting US foreign policy. They both agree on the need to balance between what is "just" and what is "practical," but they differ on how and when the US should use its hard/soft power to promote democracy and freedom.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Henock Temesgen

An improvised presentation of Jazz with a good message. There is hope for Ethiopian music!

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

The unbridled secularism of Bill Nye

There is a Bill Nye YouTube video that has gone viral where Nye expresses his disdain for those of us who do not conform to his belief system. He ridicules parents who teach a Biblical view of creation in the video and says they are holding back scientific progress. I find his logic to be deficient and his type of secularism to be an intolerant one, almost bordering on bigotry. Here is an article ("Bill Nye the Pseudoscience Guy") that does a pretty good job of refuting his pontification.

Why is Bill Nye so obsessed with our kids' minds anyway?
I'll still get his old videos at the local library to help teach my kids about basic science, but I will have to start advising them about a class of scientists, like him, who have a craving to indoctrinate our kids in their secularist faith. Neil deGrasse Tyson's agnostic views are much more palatable to me and a lot more consistent with a free society than Nye's secularism.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Stand up for your rights!

There is an acute need for a consolidation among Ethiopia's splintered opposition political groupings. In light of the opportunity created by the passing of the "dear-great-leader," it is incumbent on all of them to double and triple their efforts to bring about a transitional government that will facilitate the inclusion of all Ethiopians in their own affairs along similar lines that Messay Kebede is talking about below (the pro-Woyane guy also makes some valid points). I do not see any reason why all opposition groupings can't be brought under one or two umbrellas to accomplish this objective. Otherwise, Woyane's lucky streak will continue well into the future.